The Israel Defense Forces on Sunday began deploying troops in Bnei Brak as part of efforts to stem the spread of coronavirus in the predominately ultra-Orthodox city.
Under emergency regulations approved by the cabinet late Thursday, Bnei Brak, which is on Tel Aviv's doorstep, was declared a "restricted zone" due to its high rate of infection.
On Friday, police threw up metal barricades and roadblocks to enforce the partial lockdown of the city and its 210,000 residents.
"Bnei Brak is on lockdown, as of this morning, and police will prevent any movements in or out of the city," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Friday.
Operation Laser Beam, carried out under the auspices of the IDF Home Front Command, has assigned two brigades of paratroopers and naval commandos to assist with food and medical supplies as well as transportation to dedicated coronavirus treatment centers at hotels.
Preparations were also underway to provide similar services to other ultra-Orthodox communities that are expected to see the same travel restrictions and partial lockdown.
The military is working in coordination with Bnei Brak municipality and has instructed troops to treat residents with compassion while avoiding provocation, in order to help them through the crisis.
The unarmed troops will also be assisting health organizations to increase testing in the city, which is an epicenter of the outbreak in Israel.
"The soldiers will have protective gear to ensure they remain safe," said Maj. Gen. Tamir Yadai, head of the Home Front Command.
The former head of the GOC Central Command, Maj. Gen. (res.) Roni Numa, has also been drafted to liaise with the troops about specific needs for the residents.
Initially, the soldiers given specific information about 4,400 residential buildings where people infected by the coronavirus have been identified.
A dedicated group of soldiers will be assigned to each building and they will provide the supply of food and other urgent items for those residents.
On Sunday and Monday, some 10,000 meals were to be delivered to the over-80s population of the city, with more to be provided in the run-to the Passover holiday that begins Wednesday night.
Soldiers were also delivering hygiene products to help the local population defend against the spread of the virus.
Yadai said Sunday that there is an ongoing effort to educate the local population who due to the insular nature of their community do not have internet and only limited access to news outlets.
Some in the ultra-Orthodox community feared their kashrut dietary restrictions would not be observed strictly enough and the military is taking steps to ensure full adherence to Jewish law.